Second coming of Impros vs Joes set for May 27 at Peterborough’s Gordon Best Theatre

klusterfork's Linda Kash and her fellow improv comedy performers give students of the genre what they need: a live audience and their unselfish support

klusterfork entertainment's "Impros vs Joes" at the Gorden Beat Theatre in Peterborough on May 27, 2022 will feature "Impros" Linda Kash, Jane Luk, Sarah McNeilly, Meg Murphy, Dave Pearce, Dan Smith, and Janet Van De Graaff, amd "Joes" Troy Farrell, Yvonne LaRose, Jillian Lipsett, Donnell MacKenzie, and more, with local musician Danny Bronson provide musical accompaniment. (Graphic: klusterfork entertainment)
klusterfork entertainment's "Impros vs Joes" at the Gorden Beat Theatre in Peterborough on May 27, 2022 will feature "Impros" Linda Kash, Jane Luk, Sarah McNeilly, Meg Murphy, Dave Pearce, Dan Smith, and Janet Van De Graaff, amd "Joes" Troy Farrell, Yvonne LaRose, Jillian Lipsett, Donnell MacKenzie, and more, with local musician Danny Bronson provide musical accompaniment. (Graphic: klusterfork entertainment)

Buoyed by what was seen, heard, and felt on April 1 at Market Hall, Peterborough’s klusterfork entertainment is resurrecting a popular improvisational comedy series that enjoyed remarkable success more than 10 years ago.

“Impros vs Joes” debuts Friday, May 27th at the Gordon Best Theatre (216 Hunter St. W., Peterborough), bringing together seasoned improv veterans and local students and practitioners of the comedy genre. Tickets cost $15 in advance on Eventbrite for the 8 p.m. show, with 25 tickets available at the door. The plan moving forward is to stage the event monthly at the downtown Peterborough venue.

Knee deep in the unpredictable comic mayhem will be accomplished actress Linda Kash who, with her late husband Paul O’Sullivan, started and nurtured the first coming of Impros vs Joes shortly after they moved to the area in 2002.

Advertisement - story continues below

 

 

She says the sold-out audience that enjoyed April Fool’s Gold – The Joke’s On Us “was a total surprise,” prompting her and her klusterfork partners Ian Burns and Pat Maitland to look at bringing back a tried-and-proven gig.

“The response was absolutely fantastic,” recalls Kash, adding “Let’s be honest. We all need a laugh these days.”

“The thing about improv is there is no script. From an actor’s point of view, it’s my bungee jumping. You’ll never catch me jumping out of a plane. I don’t have to because I improvise. It’s always scary. The more I can get out of my own way and enjoy the fun of it, and also enjoy my scene partners, the better fun I have.”

Sharing a Second City background — it’s where they actually met — Kash and O’Sullivan often hosted improv comedy friends at their farm residence in exchange for a meal and, of course, a whole lot of laughs.

“There was Lisa Merchant and Paul Delarosa and Jen Caruana … all sorts of people who are still doing improv now,” says Kash.

“We would head over to the Gordon Best — local improvisers and the pros — and we would play together. We had three kids who were young at the time, so it was a way for us to get our (improv) workout in, to get our date night in and see our friends.”

Those good times proved to be the genesis of Impros vs Joes.

Paul O'Sullivan, co-founder of the original "Impros vs Joes",  was a highly respected and accomplished performer who passed away suddenly in 2012 at the age of 48.
Paul O’Sullivan, co-founder of the original “Impros vs Joes”, was a highly respected and accomplished performer who passed away suddenly in 2012 at the age of 48.

“People were lined up around the block to get tickets,” recalls Kash. “It was exciting. Any time you start something, it’s like a birthday party where you press your face up against the window wondering if anyone is going to come. When they do, it’s like ‘This is awesome.'”

“It ran for quite a few years and then life got extremely busy. I couldn’t produce it because I was working a lot in Toronto, so you couldn’t rely on me. It turned into The Citiots (improv comedy showcase) and then The Citiots had its own life.”

The return of Impros vs Joes this year is also a tribute to her late husband, according to Kash.

“Paul has been gone 10 years as of May 18. It’s in honour of him to bring it back — a nod to Paul who had so much to do with bringing improv to town. The reason we chose the name again is because it’s a familiar brand. People will know, more or less, what it is because we had such a great following.”

While arguably best known for her TV ad portrayal of the Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese Angel, Kash has a long and impressive acting resumé overflowing with film and television credits dating back to 1986. The daughter of Canadian actress and opera singer Maureen Forrester and violinist and conductor Eugene Kash, the Montreal native was destined to entertain in some form.

Advertisement - story continues below

 

 

“Live theatre is my real happy place — I like communing with an audience, right here right now for this night only,” says Kash. “But improv is the place I always go back to because it’s the foundation that keeps me brave; that keeps me trusting my instincts. It feeds everything else I do.”

“I could never do one thing only forever. It would lose its lustre. I love film but I wouldn’t want to only do film. I love TV but I wouldn’t want to only do that. I love improv but I have to apply improv to other things. And I adore teaching people to get their own laughs. It’s a real joy for me.”

In July 2020, klusterfork launched a series of online workshops for people interested in introductory training in a variety of disciplines, including improv instruction from Kash and a number of other accomplished improvisers. Impros vs Joes will see workshop students provided the opportunity to apply what they have learned before a live audience.

“These folks are really good … they’re really ready to show their stuff,” gushes Kash.

“When I first learned how to improvise, I worked for free for two years. I was up on stage every week. I was awful at the beginning. I choked many, many times but incrementally I got better because I did it more.”

“It takes practice, and a little bit of guts, to get up there and try it, and to look foolish. There isn’t a night that I don’t fail for a nanosecond to two and then I let it go, and then the next scene is better than the last. If I shut down because I didn’t get the laugh or I got a groan, the rest of the night is going to be a nightmare.”

“I’ve got an ego and I like getting laughs but I love watching them (her students) do well. I like facilitating that. I think that’s the mark of a good comedian. You can’t be a pig. You can’t hog the laughs. The audience can sense that selfishness. It’s a very generous art form. The best improvisers make their scene partner look good, if not better.”

While arguably best known for her TV ad portrayal of the Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese Angel, Linda Kash has a long and impressive acting resumé overflowing with film and television credits dating back to 1986. (Photo courtesy of Linda Kash)
While arguably best known for her TV ad portrayal of the Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese Angel, Linda Kash has a long and impressive acting resumé overflowing with film and television credits dating back to 1986. (Photo courtesy of Linda Kash)

Kash’s experience has convinced her that everyone has the ability to improvise. Still, there is one surprising revelation that she has come to realize.

“The people who are funny around the dining room table are not necessarily the best improvisers because they’re used to holding court,” she says.

“It’s the observers and the people who listen in the background and then get their chance to come up with the goods. They’ve been saying the lines in their head while their big brother has been hilarious. It’s those people that really surprise you.”

For Kash, the lure of performing improv remains as strong as it was the first time she got up on stage.

“There’s nothing like that first laugh,” she says.

“I watch people like Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie (of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame). They’re not always perfect but they work out enough that they know their game. They’re like great athletes and there’s nothing more beautiful to watch.”

“I’ve literally shit my pants many, many times. It’s frightening. But you’re never going to know what you can do in one go. You’ve got to go to the gym to know that you can lift those weights. It’s the same with improv. You can’t write yourself off after the first one.”

Advertisement - story continues below

 

 

Kash is convinced that in a world “becoming so animatronic and automated,” improv comedy will always have a place.

“I’m a little pollyanna about it but I’m so enamoured by the live experience. People come (to shows) because we need each other and we need to feel each other’s pulse around us.”

“I thought most people would be scared to come to the show (at Market Hall due to COVID concerns). We were on the fence about doing it but, my God, the energy … you don’t get that in a movie theatre. You don’t get that when you’re watching the tube. There is nothing like the live experience. Whatever the pandemic has taught us, it’s taught us we’re social beings and we need connection. And we certainly need to laugh.”

Now, as the return of Impros vs Joes nears, Kash is certain there will be something else — actually, someone else — very much in the raucous mix that night at the Gordon Best.

An inprov scene from one of the original "Impros vs Joes" shows at the Gordon Best Theatre in Peterborough in March 2012, two months before Paul O'Sullivan passed away.
An inprov scene from one of the original “Impros vs Joes” shows at the Gordon Best Theatre in Peterborough in March 2012, two months before Paul O’Sullivan passed away.

“There’s no question the spirit of Paul will be there,” Kash says.

“He is all over that building. If he could, he would be up there (on stage) with us. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made an appearance. When I think of him, I think of him having a smoke in front of that building. That was our second home. That was our night out. We might just do a little nod to him. We’re hoping to do something.”

At the very least, adds Kash, “I can blame him if I don’t get the laughs.”

For the May 27th show at the Gordon Best, the “Impros” will feature Kash, Jane Luk, Sarah McNeilly, Meg Murphy, Dave Pearce, Dan Smith, and Janet Van De Graaff, with the “Joes” including Troy Farrell, Yvonne LaRose, Jillian Lipsett, Donnell MacKenzie, and more. Local musician Danny Bronson will provide musical accompaniment.

For more information about klusterfork entertainment and details of its workshops, including those that will again be offered virtually come the fall, visit www.klusterfork.com.

 

kawarthaNOW is proud to be a media sponsor of Impros vs. Joes.

Previous articleRoad work season begins in Peterborough
Next articlenightlifeNOW – May 19 to 25
Paul Rellinger
Paul Rellinger a.k.a Relly is an award-winning journalist and longtime former newspaper editor still searching for the perfect lead. When he's not putting pen to paper, Paul is on a sincere but woefully futile quest to own every postage stamp ever issued. A rabid reader of history, Paul claims to know who killed JFK but can't say out of fear for the safety of his oh so supportive wife Mary, his three wonderful kids and his three spirited grandchildren. Paul counts among his passions Peterborough's rich live music scene, the Toronto Maple Leafs, slopitch and retrieving golf balls from the woods. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @rellywrites.